Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds. You are not alone. Trump to trafficking victims: These men were forced into slavery in Scotland. Orphanage 'recruited kids to get donations'. Atlanta teens helping end slavery. Escaping slavery in Hong Kong. Kutcher testifies against sex trafficking. The dark ingredient in your chocolate. An unusual weapon against modern slavery.
Abused orphan gets second chance. Safe house helps teenage sex trafficking victim. Survivor overcomes her sex trafficking past.
Sex trafficking in Colombia. Students fight modern slavery. Artists draw attention to modern slavery. From domestic slave to the Democratic Convention. Sex trafficking victim speaks out. Story highlights The bill that passed Congress may actually harm sex workers, critics say Internet forums provide protections for sex workers, who find work off streets. Seeing her own reflection "was so traumatizing" for Stark, a transgender woman who hadn't yet undergone the surgical treatments she knew she needed.
Some days, she couldn't leave the house. She tried taking her own life. An Army veteran living with disability, she could not get this surgical care from her usual provider, the Department of Veterans Affairs, which does not pay for or perform gender transition-related surgeries.
Stark calls Wisconsin home but mostly lives out of a suitcase, maintaining a busy schedule as an escort, adult film performer, photographer and phone sex operator. But now, her career is coming to an abrupt end after a bill passed by Congress in March.
Senate approves anti-sex-trafficking bill. I just call it the end of my career, essentially," she said. The bill, called the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act , prompted the online bulletin board Craigslist to shut down its personal ads two days after its passage.
The bill was directed against sex trafficking, not the volitional career in sex work to which Stark credits her own survival. Craigslist is an online classifieds site, divided by city or geographic area, through which users advertise a range of goods, services, jobs and housing. Now awaiting the president's signature, the bill paves the way for sex trafficking survivors to hold websites accountable for "knowingly" facilitating their abuse.
The legislation chips away at part of a act that gave a broad layer of immunity to online companies, such as Facebook or Twitter, from being held liable for what their users post. The company did not immediately respond to a request for further comment. Though the bill aims to crack down on sex trafficking and protect survivors, critics say it threatens the lives and livelihoods of sex workers who choose to work in the profession by encouraging websites like Craigslist to censor their content -- pushing some sex workers back out to the street and removing their tools for finding and screening clients.
Some sex workers are already losing their housing as a direct result of forums like Craigslist personals going dark, according to Christa B. Daring, board president of the Sex Workers Outreach Project. Many pay rent week-to-week and struggle to feed themselves and their children, they said. Craigslist was the first site Stark used to transition away from the street, where she relied on her military training to make "snap judgments" to stay out of harm's way, dodge potentially dangerous clients and avoid getting arrested -- again.
Even with the advantage of her military training, however, "most often, physical appearance and demeanor really don't tell you a whole lot," she said. Many sex workers run background checks on clients, communicate through online forums and check "bad date lists," which sex workers create to warn others about hostile clients. Stark also has a mandatory hour waiting period before she agrees to meet clients, giving her time to check for criminal records and other warning signs.
She learned ways to stay safe and grow her business from other sex workers online, some of whom keep blogs. The internet transformed modern commerce, especially the market for sex. An online marketplace makes it easier for sellers reach more customers, and for those customers to be more informed and discerning thanks to detailed reviews by previous buyers.
Economists presume all this information has made the sex trade more efficient , with participants getting better prices and more transparency. The internet expanded the market, boosted pay for sex workers, and improved their safety. Donald Trump signed the combined bill this week.
Even before the measures passed into law, their effects were apparent. The market for sex was one of the first to move online. Before, sex work mostly consisted of street walkers, often controlled by pimps, and higher-end escorts who typically worked with agencies.
The middle men were necessary to find and screen clients. Sex workers gave up control of their lives, and their earnings, for regular access to customers and some modicum of safety. One-third of all sex-worker homicides are due to murder by serial killers pdf. At the same time, pimps were also a regular source of violence. Starting in the late s, sex workers struck out on their own and advertised on different websites like Craigslist.
Soon, specialized websites sprung up to serve different segments of the market: Craigslist personals and Backpage on the lower end, and sites like Eros on the higher end. Providers no longer needed to rely on middle men to find clients because they could advertise directly to them. Sex workers could also screen clients before they met them to ensure they were not violent or police or both.
Sex workers developed a referral network, including message boards to warn each other about dangerous clients. They were able to verify customer identity by calling their employers and asking for forms of ID. Meanwhile, customers reduced their risk by posting detailed reviews on sites like the Erotic Review.
This mutual screening made sex worker safer. More money, independence, and safety attracted more sex workers into the market...
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